IN HER OWN WORDS: 'Street angel, home devil'
A WIFE, a mother, a victim.
Krista Hepi-Tehuia was not only left with bruising on her neck after her husband's hand wrapped around it so tight she almost lost consciousness - she was left with the sense that she did something wrong.
On Thursday Tyson Karapa Hepi-Tehuia pleaded guilty to assault occasioning in bodily harm in the Bundaberg District Court.
As the news broke community members came out with pitchforks, but to her surprise some were aimed at her.
The court heard on July 24, 2017, Hepi-Tehuia, 39, had been in an argument with his partner of 17 years Krista, when she decided to go to bed.
Hepi-Tehuia then grabbed her by the hair and dragged her out of their bed before grabbing her by the throat and pushing her against a wall.
"The complainant could not breathe at the time," Judge Tony Moynihan said as he handed down his sentence.
"... you threatened to kill your partner and you smashed her head against the wall a number of times before she fell to the ground.
QUEENSLAND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE SERVICES
"You then picked her up and threw her on the bed ... she felt pins and needles in her face, suffered blurred vision, and she thought she was going to die."
After the attack Krista now bears the scars that are more than skin deep and she suffers from PTSD.
Speaking with the NewsMail Krista said the prosecution secured a guilty plea, but the sentence was not good enough for what he had done.
"There is something seriously wrong with these violent offenders strangling women and getting immediate parole," she said.
"What message is that sending."
Hepi-Tehuia was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment, to be released immediately.
She said during the court proceeding it was noted how Hepi-Tehuia was a chaplain and a pastor in the community.
This left her questioning why this mattered - after what he had pleaded guilty to?
"How is any of that relevant when he strangled his wife and threatened to kill her," Krista asked.
"Makes me sick to think he can walk on parole, while I am left to suffer with PTSD."
She is disheartened to hear people in the community talk about how wonderful he was, some saying there was "two sides to the story".
"The investigation of CPIU detectives rested on forensic photographic evidence, medical reports and witness statements for the police to proceed with a charge and criminal proceedings," she said.
"It saddens me that some people will resort to victim shaming and blaming the person for the acts of crime that were committed against them."
"Yet he strangled his wife.
"It's such a disappointment that people defend perpetrators of DV.
"People should know that the most horrific DV happens behind closed doors.
"They don't know the 'real' Tyson - Tyson is a street angel, home devil."
She said the photos given as evidence at court showed the force of the assault.
"The bruising on my neck was significant and you can see where each of his fingers were on my throat where he squeezed and was crushing it in his hands," she said.
"The way he conducts himself in the community is the complete opposite to the Tyson I experienced at home."
Her victim statement, handed up to the court during Thurday's sentencing, detailed the event that took place in 2017.
"The act of violence committed against me has changed me and my life forever," it read.
"My ability to trust, my ability to feel safe and my ability to forgive.
"Strangulation is by far the most terrifying thing that has happened to me.
"I continue to have nightmares that make me relive what happened in graphic detail."
Not only is Krista a victim, she is now a survivor and by sharing her story she hopes others will be strong enough to stand up to domestic violence.
Victim impact statement given to the court
My name is Krista Rovena Hepi-Tehuia. I am the wife of Tyson Karapa Hepi-Tehuia.
I am the mother of Tyson's 6 children, fours daughters and two sons ages 18, 13, 11, 5, 3 and 4 months old.
I would like to take this opportunity to describe in my own words how this crime has affected my life and the lives of my children.
The physical, spiritual, emotional and psychological impact of the trauma suffered and how it has affected me as a woman, as a wife and as a mother.
I felt subordinate to my husband and a silent prisoner in a very unhappy and unsafe marriage.
A marriage that I was told over and over, was ordained by God.
I felt that my Christian faith was manipulated in a way that required me to accept what happened to me, through the continual forgiveness of sins.
To honour my husband in the same way I would honour the Lord.
To not speak out against him.
When I finally got the courage to leave the marriage and report this crime to police in May 2018, I was told I was evil, ungodly, vicious and immoral. I was accused of trying to bring my husband down. This crime has had a significant affect on me spiritually.
The act of violence committed against me, has changed me and my life forever.
My ability to trust, my ability to feel safe and my ability to forgive.
Strangulation is by far the most terrifying thing that has ever happened to me.
I continue to have nightmares that make me relive what happened in graphic detail.
The way it made me feel.
The paralysing fear where my body can't move, it's frozen.
The intimidation of Tyson's size and strength in comparison to my own.
The intense pressure in my head and the excruciating pain that I felt.
The frightening visual changes and the feeling of losing consciousness.
Hearing the word he was going to kill me. Feeling and believing I was going to die.
The fear of having no one to help me. I felt vulnerable and unprotected.
I lost a noticeable amount of hair from my head, where Tyson grabbed hold of it and dragged me.
I could not swallow properly and my throat was incredibly sore.
I could not chew food to eat.
My voice was affected, my ability to speak.
My head, neck, jaw, leg, underarm and chest areas were bruised and tender.
I felt embarrassed having to go out in public with significant noticeable bruising on my neck.
People starred at the bruising when I went to the supermarket to get my groceries and I felt humiliated.
Tyson expressed anger towards me because I didn't try to cover up the neck bruising with make-up.
This made me feel ashamed, like I was to blame.
I still have frightening vision of Tyson's widened dark eyes, bulging veins in his forehead and his gritted teeth.
It terrifies me even now.
I struggle to sleep.
I can no longer sleep with my back facing the bedroom door.
I need to leave a light on in the house.
I've pushed furniture up against the back door so I can hear if he ever tries to come in.
Every time the security lights come on at night, I think it's him.
I have an overwhelming fearing that Tyson will come back to kill me and I wont have an opportunity to call out for help.
I am hyper vigilant.
My doors are deadlocked for most hours of the day.
I can't go outside on my own during the night. The fear renders me a prisoner in my own life and in my own home.
It dictates what I do and where I go.
The fear consumes me.
It has affected my quality of life.
I feel like I'm the one being punished for Tyson's crime indefinitely.
I believe Tyson meant it when he said he is going to kill me.
I have concerns for the long term impact and potential medical complications posed to my health from the strangulation.
I have been diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder by my clinical psychologist and attend ongoing counselling sessions with domestic violence social workers and trauma counsellors.
These sessions are confronting and emotionally exhausting.
I continue to be financially disadvantaged as I do not receive any child support from Tyson.
I have been too fearful of the potential risks to mine and the children's safety, if I make a s child support claim.
Tyson has never apologised or shown any signs of remorse for doing what he did to me and what he exposed our young children to.
This has made me feel like he does not care and that he is not sorry for the pain and suffering that he has cause.
Since reporting this crime to police and Tyson being charged, I have been made aware that Tyson has told my children, my family, mutual friends and people in the community that I a crazy and that I am a liar.
Tyson is a well known Bundaberg Identity, I am a stay as home mum.
He has been able to communicate his views to a multitude of people and I have felt unable to defend my reputation and the truth.
Essentially undermining my police statements, evidence, the criminal charge and altered the public's perception.
Since Tyson was charged by police, I have received threatening, intimidating and abusive messages, in retaliation to me reporting Tyson's crime.
This has caused me a great deal of upset.
My pregnancy with Ariela was heavily weighted with stress from countless hours of police interviews and statements.
This occurring at a time and that I should have felt relaxed, happy and safe.
Feeling safe is my basic human right.
I am grateful that my voice has finally been heard.
Krista Hepi Tehuia
If you need to speak to someone about domastic violence phone DV CONNECT - 1800 811 811.